Best Paris Strolls

Stroll 3: Quarter of The Mint

Stroll 3 Quarter of the Mint

Quick Description: Old Paris streets, Paris Mint Museum, Pont Neuf, Pont des Arts, boat tour option.

Where: Left Bank, near the river, parallel to Ile de la Cite, and onto the island’s western tip.  

Start at Place Saint Michel, outside Metro station Saint Michel – Notre Dame (#4 line).  End at Pont des Arts, near three Metro stations: Pont Neuf (#7 line), Louvre – Rivoli (#1 line), and Saint Germain-des-Pres (#4 line).  

Duration: 45 min walk, @1.5-2 hrs with all venue visits. Add @1.5 hrs for r/t river cruise at midpoint (or at end).  Early Departure Option at midpoint.     

Best Days: Tuesday – Friday

Best Time to Start: 10am – 2:00pm

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Connects: by foot to Stroll 4 (The Louvre & Vicinity), or Stroll 5 (Palais Royal & Vicinity), or Stroll 6 (Les Halles-Pompidou-Hotel de Ville), or Stroll 11 (Saint Germain – East), or Stroll 12 (Saint Germain – West); and by Metro to Stroll 7 (Central Marais), or Stroll 8 (Southern Marais), or Stroll 9 Western & Northern Marais), or Stroll 10 (Ile Saint Louis & Vicinity), or Stroll 15 (Concorde-Tuilieries-Vendome), or Stroll 16 (Concorde-Madeleine-Expiatoire), or Stroll 17 (Concorde to Place de l’Alma), or Stroll 21 (Opera-Haussmann-Saint Lazare), or Stroll 26 (Cadet to Bourse via Passages), or Stroll 29 (The Southern Fifth), or Stroll 30 (Montparnasse). 

Past and Present: From the Roman era in the 1st to the 5th centuries through the Middle Ages this area of the Left Bank was mostly vineyards.  The central path through them led from the Latin Quarter west to a gate in the 1203 city wall, and on to the abbey of Saint Germain de Pres.  From the 1300s to the 1500s major buildings included the Church of Saint Andre-des-Arts at the path’s eastern end and the abbey of the Grand Augustinian monks along the river.   Completion of the Pont Neuf in 1607 connected the area to Ile de la Cite and the Right Bank, leading to its rapid development; and construction of the National Mint just west of the bridge in 1777 caused it to be named the “Quarter of the Mint.”  Today, this discrete neighborhood features, in addition to the Pont Neuf and the Mint, the Institut de France building with Bibliotheque Mazarine, the Pont des Arts footbridge, and many preserved streets, buildings and landmark sites evoking the atmosphere of Old Paris.

Attractions (in order):

  • Place / Fontaine / Boulevard Saint Michel: 19th century intersection with pedestrian plaza featuring a dramatic, large carved fountain at the center that is one of the city’s iconic symbols.
  • Place Saint Andre-des-Arts and Adjacent Streets:  Colorful plaza with cafes on the site of a former medieval church, followed by streets evoking Renaissance Paris. 
  • “The Beat Hotel” Exhibit: Lobby of Le Relais Hotel du Vieux Paris, #9 Rue Git-le-Couer.  Potos and memorabilia celebrating now famous American “Beat” authors who resided here in the 1950s.  Daily, free.
  • Le Grenier de Picasso (Picasso’s Attic Studio): #7 Rue des Grands Augustins.  The attic of a Renaissance mansion where Picasso painted “Guernica.” (Note: This is a planned attraction, but  mired in legal battles.  Check for access.) 
  • Pont Neuf with King Henri IV Statue:  Accessed from the river road, Quai des Augustins.  Dating from 1607, this is the city’s oldest standing bridge.  It connects the Ile de la Cite with both banks and features a central terrace with an equestrian statue of King Henri IV, who reigned from 1594 to 1610 and completed the bridge. 
  • Square du Vert Galant:  Water side park at western tip of Ile de la Cite.  Access is via a staircase down from the central terrace on Pont Neuf.  Open 24×7.
  • Jacques De Molay Plaque:  On the staircase wall at Square du Vert Galant.  The plaque commemorates the wrongful execution of De Molay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, here in 1314.
  • Vedettes du Pont Neuf:  Square du Vert Galant.  This Seine river tour boat operation has its dock at the park.   Various cruise options are offered, including a one-hour round trip, for @€14, departing daily from 10:45am to 10:15pm.  
  • Bouquinistes and Peniches along the River:  Between Rue des Grand Augustins and the Pont des Arts.  Check out the booksellers in landmarked stalls along the river road, and the antique cargo hauler houseboats docked along the lower quay.           
  • Monnaie de Paris : #11 Quai de Conti, facing the river.  This landmark 18th century building known as the Hotel des Monnaies (House of Monies), is home to the Paris branch of the National Mint, along with the MInt’s museum.  The building and the two institutions are referred to collectively as the Monnaie de Paris.  Visitors to the museum learn about the history of France’s currency and examine old coins, honorific medals and art pieces created by the Mint.  Tues-Sun 11am-7pm, €8 adults, special exhibits €10, under 18 free.  The property also contains a fancy Guy Savoy restaurant, a café and a gift shop.  
  • Bibliothèque Mazarine: in the Institut de France building, on Quai de Conti, facing the river and the Pont des Arts. This iconic 17th century Italianate building houses the nation’s first public library, with an ornate reading room open to the public (photo ID required for library pass, groups limited to four). Mon-Sat 10am-6pm., free.
  • Pont des Arts: Crossing the river from the Institut de France to the Palais du Louvre.  This early 19th century footbridge has stunning views and is a favorite place for photographers, plein air painters, movie and tv shows productions, and visitors.

Dining Suggestions (in order):

  • Allard: #41 Rue Saint Andre-des-Arts, at Rue de l’Eperon.  French cuisine, emphasizing classic, hearty dishes.  Traditional room.  An 80-year-old institution, now under chef Alain Ducasse.  Daily Noon-2pm, 7-10pm.  Prix fixe lunch @€34 3 courses.
  • L’Epigramme: #9 Rue de l’Eperon, off Rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts. French cuisine with modern variations and artful presentations.  Stone-walled room with comfortable modern decor.  Tues-Sat Noon-2:30pm, 6-10:30pm.  Prix fixe lunch @€25 3 courses.
  • Mariage Freres Rive Gauche: #13 Rue des Grand Augustins.  Left Bank retail shop of the international tea purveyor, with second floor dining salon offering teas and pastries. Mon-Sat 10:30am-7:30pm.  Moderate prices.
  • Fajitas: #15 Rue Dauphine, half block from the Pont Neuf.  Mexican cuisine.  Hacienda style room. Tues-Sat Noon-11pm. Average cost @€20.

Note: Place and Rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts in the first half of the route and Rue Dauphine in the second half have many quick and inexpensive lunch spots, including cafes, creperies, boulangeries, and places  for falafel, kebab, bao bun and tacos.  or 

Ready to stroll?
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Stroll Map

Ready to stroll?
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